Ian Danskin, (Danskin 2018)

This is an entry in the Alt-right Playbook.

Summary

Politicians only let a euphemism die when they don’t need it anymore.

[…]

To the Far Right, a euphemism is like a calf: something to be brought into this world or inherited, removed from its original context, raised to adolescence, and then slaughtered when the time is right. Historically, the first sign that things are about to get a lot worse for minorities is when the racism stops being euphemistic.

Thoughts

Notes

Politicians only let a euphemism die when they don’t need it anymore.

Now, white racists have a complicated relationship to their own racism. They seemingly want the impossible: they want segregation without appearing to be segregationists, racist policy without the social repercussions. Possibly, they don’t even want to admit their racism to themselves. Silvermilk would need a framing that allowed the blithely racist, the overtly racist, and the non-racist to unite under a single banner.

For this purpose, Silvermilk landed on the long-enduring euphemism: “states' rights.” [You’re getting so abstract]

States' rights was invoked - and is still invoked - to defend anti-miscegenation laws, anti-abortion laws, same-sex marriage bans, trans bathroom bills, spousal rape, you name it. Every time there are gains for social minorities, the Republicans shore up the votes of bigots who find these gains offensive.

It’s hard for the Left to argue with the “states' rights” argument because it’s not designed to make sense. Republicans will say we should leave an issue like same-sex marriage up to the states, but only after a Federal ban on same-sex marriage proves infeasible. Up until that moment, they are in favor of government overreach. So “states' rights” has never been a consistent philosophy, but, then, why should it be? It’s a euphemism. Its sole purpose is bringing an extreme ideology into mainstream politics.

[…] loyalty is one of the strongest things in politics today. Come Election Day, people who disavowed him was making phone calls on [Donald Trump’s] behalf.

A euphemism dies when it no longer works to disguise things that can’t be said, or when culture at large decides things that can’t be said are now sayable. In the last couple videos, we’ve talked about how the Far Right mainstreams a, for instance, racist idea by convincing people it’s not racist. What we’re seeing here is the endgame of that process: once the public embraces them as people, elects their politicians, and implements their policies, they begin, bit by bit, to drop the pretense. Because, if they want to close the borders once and for all, it’s in their best interest to stop pretending border control is about protecting jobs.

A sad truth about humans is they will often accept almost any justification to keep doing whatever they’re already doing [Cognitive dissonance]. If someone has spent years favoring border security - they’ve voted for it, their taxes have paid for it, maybe they’ve even called ICE on someone - and one day you tell them, “Keep doing what you’re doing, but, by the way, it’s not about jobs anymore, now it’s about keeping Mexicans out,” a lot of them will roll with it. We like to think action follows belief, and sometimes it does, but at least as often it’s the reverse. And that’s a dangerous thing when given the choice to do something different or do the same thing only more.

To the Far Right, a euphemism is like a calf: something to be brought into this world or inherited, removed from its original context, raised to adolescence, and then slaughtered when the time is right. Historically, the first sign that things are about to get a lot worse for minorities is when the racism stops being euphemistic.

References

Danskin, Ian. 2018. “The Death of a Euphemism.” Tumblr. Innuendo Studios. https://innuendostudios.tumblr.com/post/174432447847/the-newest-installment-of-the-alt-right-playbook.